At the interface between land and sea, coasts are significant for humans in many respects – as a habitat, for the procurement of food, for the transport of goods, as industry and recreation areas. Thus, sea level rise has severe consequences for humans. Apart from storm surges and floods, coastal regions suffer from erosion, the intrusion of saltwater into fresh groundwater and the rise of the groundwater level. The impacts reach far into the inland and affect more than 600 million people worldwide.
With the help of the Citizen Science project "Coastwards" funded by the Cluster of Excellence "The Future Ocean", citizens can now help researchers from the Institute of Geography of Kiel University (CAU) to better understand the risks of sea level rise. "A global evaluation of the risks is hampered by a lack of information about the physical characteristics of coasts," says Professor Nassos Vafeidis, geographer and head of the working group "Coastal Risks and Sea-Level Rise" of the Cluster of Excellence "The Future Ocean" at Kiel University. "If coasts were able to send us their selfies, we would have progressed a lot further," he adds.
These thoughts have led to the development of the online platform www.coastwards.org. Here, people can upload 'coastal selfies' worldwide and contribute to a global data base of coastal types. Participation is fairly simple and registration is not required. Whether Mallorca or Ecuador, whether steep coast or port facility, whether it is from ten years ago or from yesterday - every photo is added to the database and in this way, improves an important scientific basis for the development of long-term adaptation strategies. The only requirements are: No faces should be recognisable and the type of coast, i.e. the nature of the coast such as sand, stones or rocks should be recognisable. It is also important that the image is original and the person who uploads it has the property rights.